The Russian government allowed a leakage of information, which said that the new United Nations resolution on Iraq (which is currently developed by the US State Department) was not good for Russia. The Iraqi opposition has already claimed that all oil contracts that were considered by the "dictator" were going to be reconsidered. It was added, though, that the preference would be given to American oil companies. It does not matter, which role Russia would like to obtain in the new world order. It is just clear that its interests in Iraq cost much more. Vladimir Putin allegedly promised that he would be standing for the interests of the Russian oil producers in Iraq.
Well informed Moscow sources said to Polit.Ru website that the new variant of the UN resolution on Iraq would not have a lot differences from American and British previous suggestions on the subject. This will definitely be not good for Russia and other constant members of the UN Security Council, which stand against the military operation in Iraq.
Russian sources set out their disappointment concerning the American policy, since they expected more attention to the positions of other countries. However, it seems that the USA is intended to grab it all. Spokesman for the opposition Iraqi National Congress Sharaf bin Ali Husein has already had time to announce that the oil contracts would be reconsidered, if the opposition came to power in Iraq. He particularly mentioned the contracts with Russian and French oil companies. Ali Husein added that it did not mean that those contracts would be eliminated. They will just take account of the “dictator’s” signature. The leader of the Iraqi opposition promised that the priority would be given to American oil companies.
It is obvious that this new Iraqi power is not interesting either for Moscow or for Paris, taking into consideration Russia’s and France’s adherence to liberal values. The idea of the Russian principal army headquarters to organize a coup in Iraq is getting more and more real. Russia has no other interests like that in any other country of the Middle East. The protection of those interests is likely to become the new national idea, which Boris Yeltsin and Co. failed to find.
Russian oil giant LUKOIL’s contract for the development of Iraqi oil deposits is evaluated in the sum of $20 billion. LUKOIL concluded a contract with the Iraqi state oil company. The extraction of oil can not be started until the withdrawal of UN sanctions. However, LUKOIL has already managed to invest a lot of money in the development of the deposit.
It is worth mentioning here that similar contracts were concluded with the Iraqi government by Western oil companies too, for example, the French company Totalfinaelf SA and the Italian Eni Spa. Experts had doubts regarding those transactions before. Now it is getting obvious that the American administration means the Iraqi oil only to its own oil companies.
The Wall Street Journal wrote about an opportunity of a new competition for the development of the deposits, which had been invested by the mentioned companies. This is not good for anyone, for Russia, first and foremost.
President of the Russian company LUKOIL, Vagit Alekperov, does not want to hide the fact that he has repeatedly discussed the fate of the Russian oil companies in Iraq. He particularly discussed the issue pertaining to LUKOIL’s control stock in the Iraqi oil project with Vladimir Putin.
LUKOIL’s president said that neither Washington, nor the Kremlin promised him any certain guarantees. However, Alekperov is still sure that his contract will remain legal, no matter what kind of future regime Iraq might have. “Our contract was signed according to the norms of the international right. I am sure that the Iraqi laws will be observed regardless of the events,” said Vagit Alekperov.
LUKOIL’s Vice President Leonid Fedun earlier stated that if the new Iraqi regime was not going to be friendly to Russia, it might ruin the plans of the company in Iraq. “Furthermore, we do not hear any statements from the American government about the execution of the current contracts. As far as I can understand, the Russian leadership must be interested in these questions,” said Leonid Fedun.
To crown it all, LUKOIL already has certain difficulties with the incumbent Iraqi administration. Iraq tried to make the Russian company do the things, which were not stipulated in the contract. The LUKOIL administration was even forced to announce the cessation of its activities in Iraq. That statement was explained with a possibility of the military operation in Iraq. However, LUKOIL does not want to hide the fact that the obtrusiveness of Iraqi officials is getting tiresome for Russian oligarchs.
Russia has made up with the inevitability of the war with Iraq. This is the common opinion that the Western countries have about Russia nowadays. The Russian diplomacy does not have a real opportunity to show any influence on the situation. Only a mentally unbalanced person would think to render the army support to the Iraqi “dictator.” No Russian man will go to defend Hussein’s regime. Hussein is not one of the good guys.
Foreign analysts are right, when they say that the Russian government was disappointed with Saddam Hussein’s regime and his policy. The World Tribune wrote that Putin did not believe anymore that Baghdad would payback its ten billion dollar debt. Iraq has saved this debt back in the Cold War era, when Soviet specialists came to Iraq for the first time and established the oil industry there. Yet, the return of that debt is a lot more attractive to Russia, than even its share in the Iraqi oil.
On the other hand, Russian oligarchs keep saying that President Putin is sure that the end of Saddam’s regime will never exert any negative influence on Iraq. A spokesman for LUKOIL Mikhail Dolgov said that Moscow obliged to stand for the interests of the Russian companies in Iraq, regardless of the Baghdad regime. Vladimir Putin has to work a lot on this problem now. Presidential election is to take place in Russia in the year 2004. Putin might pay with his second term of presidency for the helplessness of the Russian government in the Iraqi problem. Presidents can not joke like that.
What if Russia deploys its commandos in Baghdad for the sake of saving the people of Iraq from the horror of war? This does not seem to be a lunatic idea now. This step might become much more efficient. Probably, it could provoke a crisis that the CIA and the US State Department analysts did not even think of. Then it will be the time for the new kind of the world order, taking into consideration everybody’s interests.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov